Witches play a large role in the lore of the Night World. A parallel species to Homo sapiens born with raw paranormal potential, witches are human-like creatures capable of influencing properties of the natural world through their own unique school of sorcery known as witchcraft.
Among the Night People, witches are close to humans in their anatomy and mortality. While witches are collectively called Daughters of Hellewise, warlocks - or male witches - do exist, being few in number. This prompted early witches to take human men as husbands for procreation.
Thea Harman noted that humans have a much higher fertility rate compared to witches, enabling them to become the dominant species of the planet despite their physical impotence compared to supernatural creatures. This explains the largely small population of witches in the world.
A witch's power is an inborn property; their bodies surging with arcane energies. The purpose of spells is to focus this energy into something the witch can control through sheer force of intent and emotion and thus exert their influence over the physical world or another person.
Without training or spellcasting, a witch's power will leave their immediate presence and begin manifesting as random psychic phenomena such as telekinesis or prophetic visions. These incidents can prove dangerous both to onlookers and to the witches themselves if left unchecked.
It is also mentioned that iron is toxic to witches. Witches can be converted into made vampires (probably due to their great similarity to humans). They can also breed with lamia, though the children resulting from such a union will always be either a witch or a lamia.
Witches have established a matriarchy in which all members of a bloodline will inherit their legal status and surname from their mothers instead of their fathers, even if their sire was human. Witches were also expected to enter their mother's clan after coming into their powers.
Many witches name their children after a certain goddess, a legendary hero, or a creature. Names that reflect certain natural elements such as fire or wind are also common. A witch's surname is likewise intended to represent a specific attribute of the mother's bloodline or clan.
Historically, all witches are called "Daughters of Hellewise", as they trace their ancestry through her (although members of the Harman Family are in particular Hellewise's direct descendants). Witches regard one another on familiar terms, the formal greeting among them being "Unity", and despite rank consider one another equals (the concept of prejudice or racism, as shown by the witch Dani Abforth, are unknown among the witch clans).
Witches are shown to be polytheistic, as they call upon and worship a variety of ancient goddesses, gods and spirits, often asking them for aid in their spells. Most witches have a particular favorite deity, and on special celebrations may dress in the image of such idols. In addition, witches appear to celebrate many if not all of the traditional holidays of the real-world Wiccan calendar, with both Summer and Winter Solstices, Samhain and Beltane mentioned as being celebrated.
As they are mortal, witches accept the concept of death, believing that when they die, their spirits ascend and go the afterlife, called "the Other Side". However, advanced witches are capable of calling back the spirits of the dead, specifically during the celebration of Samhain, when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead are thinnest. Furthermore, in times of great need, a witch has the power to even call back their ancestress, Hellewise.
For high crimes committed against either the witches or the Night World, a witch and any associates involved can be subject to execution, though the severity of the crimes in question are subject to the ruling of the Inner Circle and/or the joint Night World Council. In the case of a capital crime, a witch is said to be given "the Cup of Death" (likely poison or a compound containing iron), implying that the guilty witch is to drink something toxic and die forcibly by their own hand.
The Night World symbol for witches is a black dahlia. An additional, more obscure signet for the witch species is a crescent moon with three stars.
- Main article: Circles
Witch society is composed of two Circles (originally three), each of which a given witch chooses to belong, although they make their permanent choice once they become eighteen. The Circles consist of Circle Twilight and Circle Midnight. Those of Circle Twilight were considered the less drastic of the witches in their hatred of human beings, and held respect for all life in accordance with the Wiccan Rede ("And in harm none, do what ye will"). In contrast, Circle Midnight consisted of those witches who were active in their stand against humans, even resorting to torture and killing at whim, and practicing far darker spells. A third, extinct circle, Circle Daybreak, had once existed, which encouraged good relations between witches, other Night People, and human beings. However, with the persecution of witches during the Burning Times, the circle was disbanded (though it was revived during the 20th century)
A fourth Circle, the Inner Circle, is a coven of nine of the most powerful witches, "the geniuses, far-seers, prodigies, the teachers...". They are the governing body of the witches and act as their representatives among the joint Night World council. Its members include:
The community of witches is always led by a Maiden, Mother, and Crone, in addition to the Inner Circle. The current leaders are Aradia as Maiden, Mother Cybele as Mother, and Grandma Harman as Crone. The Maiden represents young and teenage witches, and will one day become the Mother, and then the Crone. The Crone is always the oldest of the direct descendants of Hellewise. Witch age groupings are also named after these figures: younger witches, up to age eighteen, are considered "Maidens", adult witches are "Mothers", and elderly witches are deemed "Crones". Maidens will initially join a given Circle (Twilight or Midnight) at age seven, but at age eighteen must chose the Circle they intend to stay with for life.
Lost Witches Edit
- Main article: Lost Witches
In some cases, witches can become enmeshed in human society and ultimately lose their identity as witches. When this occurs, the witch and any of his or her descendants are considered lost witches, or psychics. Lost witches, when discovered, are welcomed fully into the Night World but, once they are aware of their heritage and begin formal training, the laws of the Night World apply to them as well.
- Main article: Spellcaster
Spellcasters are witches who no longer identify as such, rejecting witch culture and values, whilst still practising magic. Biologically, they are still technically witches, but they do not affiliate with witch organisations (save for perhaps, Circle Midnight) and have been known to turn on their fellow witches.
The witch clans had originally been led by Hecate Witch-Queen, the ancestress of all witches, and her twin daughters: Maya and Hellewise. Under Hecate, during the First Age, the witch clans were involved in the battle between the witches and the dragons, which resulted in the defeat and enchantment of the entire dragons species; only the youngest was spared, the progenitress of the Drache family. This ended the First Age and ushered in the Second Age, during which the witch clans reigned supreme over the world.
However, some time after this battle, Hecate passed away, and her daughters became the rulers of the tribe. Unfortunately, Maya sought immortality and her quest for it eventually made her the first vampire. After Maya converted her close friend Theorn into a made vampire and ruthlessly killed many others, Hellewise fought her sister in the first Night War and defeated her, driving Maya and her son Red Fern from the tribe. Hellewise then subsequently died of her injuries sustained in the battle. Ever since this first Night War, the witches and vampires have been engaged in a centuries-long blood feud with one another.
Ultimately, the reign of the witches was brought to an end by the Ice Age, after which the vampires rose to power over the world, spawning the Third Age.
The feud continued into the 16th and 17th century, during the Fourth Age when mankind gained supremacy over the world. However, among the vampires, a predicament developed: Hunter Redfern, the current leader of Maya's descendants (the Redferns) and representative of the vampires, had no male heir. Therefore, to end the Night Wars, the Redfern patriarch agreed to perform a blood-tie ceremony with the leader of the witches at the time, Maeve Harman, who was tired of the bloodshed, which formally ended the Night Wars and united the witches and vampires as Night World citizens. During this time additionally, the third circle, Circle Daybreak, was disbanded with the persecution of Night People at the hands of humans. Enclaves were then formed as safe havens for the Night World's denizens.
The witches continued their existence even in the present day; Edgith Harman, the eldest of the Harman clan, eventually rose to the position of Crone among the witch circles as well as their representative. However, troubles began appearing for them when Thea Harman (and later other Harmans) found a soulmate among humans. When brought before the Inner Circle, in spite of Thea demonstrating great power, even being able to call on her ancestress Hellewise, Thea had no choice but to leave the Night World and her family. In light of this event, Grandma Harman had begun to ruminate on the possibility of reviving Circle Daybreak. With aid from Theorn, now the vampire lord Thierry Descouedres, the circle is restored, acting primarily as a place for those Night People finding human soulmates, as well as for those humans who learn of the Night World's existence and seek harmony for all.
Due to friction with the Night World during the emergence of the Wild Powers, the witches formally seceded from the Night World after the disappearance of their Maiden, and officially joined Circle Daybreak, seeking to protect humans from the apocalypse. The witches would unfortunately lose their Crone to the Night World after this defiance; the Crone is attacked and killed by shapeshifters working for the Night World in Witchlight; Mother Cybele becomes their new leader after this tragedy. To boost their strength and unite with the shapeshifter clans, the witches agreed to a promise ceremony between the son of the First House and the legendary Witch Child, a Harman witch and the third Wild Power. The treaty goes through but not as originally planned; the Witch Child, Iliana, instead unites the two species by conducting a blood-tie with the shapeshifter Keller, after learning her intended fiance, Galen, is Keller's soulmate. This action formally unites the two species.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
- Spell Casting: The act of changing and controlling events through the use of incantations and more.
- Potion Making: The act of brewing and concocting magical potions.
- Channeling: The act of invoking extra forms of energy by focusing on external sources of power.
- Astral Projection: The power to project the astral body from outside of the physical body in order to travel from one location to another.
- Aura Reading: The power to perceive energy fields surrounding various people, places and things.
- Divination: The act of divining future, past, and present events based off extrasensory perception.
- Astrology: The practice of divination through observation of the Moon, Sun, and other planets in the belief that their positions affect human behavior.
- Cartomancy: The practice of divination through the use of tarot cards.
- Clairvoyance: The practice of divination through the perception of emotions, objects, people, or physical phenomena.
- Intuition: The practice of divination through the use of instinctive knowledge.
- Palmistry: The practice of divination based off the features indicated on the human palm.
- Premonitions: The practice of divination through the observation and study of dreams.
- Psychometry: The practice of divination through contact with or proximity to a certain object or person.
- Rune Reading: The practice of divination based off the positions and symbols of runic stones.
- Scrying: The practice of divination through crystal-gazing or other forms of fortune tells.
- Tassomancy: The practice of divination based off the positions and symbols of tea leaves.
- Elemental Control: The power to control and manipulate the elements of air, earth, fire and water.
- Aerokinesis: The power to control and manipulate the element of air.
- Geokinesis: The power to control and manipulate the element of earth.
- Hydrokinesis: The power to control and manipulate the element of water.
- Pyrokinesis: The power to control and manipulate the element of fire.
- Empathy: The power to identify the emotional feelings of another person.
- Levitation: The power to float or rise the physical body within midair through mental influence.
- Longevity: The power to live for hundreds (possibly thousands) of years while maintaining a beautiful and youthful appearance.
- Mind Control: The power to control and manipulate the behavior and thoughts of another living creature.
- Telekinesis: The act of controlling and manipulating the movement of objects and persons through mental influence.
- Telepathy: The power to hear the thoughts and read the minds of another person.
- Teleportation: The act of disappearing from one location and instantly reappearing in another location through supernatural means.
- Transfiguration: The act of changing and transforming the physical body into the form of another.
- Mortality: Due to having similar physiology to humans, witches are susceptible to many of the weaknesses humans are, including disease and old age. They can be heavily injured, and are also known to have allergic reactions to substances, including spells, as the Maiden Aradia had once been accidentally poisoned by a truth potion and suffered a near-fatal reaction to it.
- Iron: akin to wood for vampires, the element of iron acts like a poison to the bloodstream of a witch, and is extremely lethal to their kind.
- Walstan Harman
- Nicholas Harman
- Phoebe Garner
- Maeve Harman
- Roseclear Harman
- Corisande Harman
- Suzanne Blanchet
- The Inner Circle
- Gisèle Maigny
- Jesse North (father of the twins Poppy and Phillip, a lost witch)
- Phillip North (formerly a lost witch)
- Thea Harman
- Blaise Harman
- Dani Abforth
- Vivienne Morrigan
- Selene Lucna
- Alaric Breedlove
- Gillian Lennox (formerly a lost Harman witch)
- Gary Fargeon (formerly a lost witch; had died and remained for some time as a spirit)
- Circe Harman
- Sylvia Weald (bitter over being rejected by the Harman clan, she places her allegiance with the Night World and abandons her heritage as a witch)
- Winfrith "Winnie" Arlin
- Iliana Dominick (formerly a lost witch; the prophesied Witch Child)
- Anna Dominick (a lost Harman witch, mother of Iliana and Alex Dominick)
- Mary Kennedy (Harman) (a lost Harman witch, mother of Anna Dominick)
- Alex Dominick (brother of Iliana, son of Anna Dominick)
- Gwen Lennox (mother of Gillian Lennox, a lost Harman witch)
- Maya Dragonslayer (the first vampire; formerly a witch, yet despite her transformation, she has retained her spellcasting ability)
- Poppy North (formerly a lost witch; converted into a made vampire by her soulmate)
- Thierry Descouedres (before being changed into a vampire, he had been stated as being a member of the witch tribe to which Maya and Hellewise belonged, leading to speculation that Thierry might have been a witch himself before his transformation)
- Conlan Spearthrower (Thierry's brother; he was also a member of the prehistoric witch tribe and therefore could've been a witch too - according to the family tree, he was also the partner of Hellewise and the father of Iluna)
- Mal Harman (stated to be a vampire-witch hybrid)
- Clèment and Lucienne Blanchet (younger siblings of Suzanne Blanchet, who was a witch; they are never explicitly stated to be witches though it can be assumed they were due to their sister being one. They were executed for witchcraft, though the witch-hunters were hardly experts at determining who was a real witch)
- Being direct descendants of Hellewise Hearth-Woman, the Harman Family are considered "royalty" within the Night World.
- In contrast with the lamia, witches are matriarchal.
- All witches trace their heritage to Hellewise Hearth-Woman.
- Most witches have seceded from the Night World and joined Circle Daybreak, with the exception of the darkest Circle Midnight witches.
- A witch, Maya Dragonslayer, was responsible for the creation of the vampire race.
- Appropriately, male witches are called "Sons of Hellewise".
- The very first witch introduced to the series was Poppy North, albeit as a lost witch. The first trained witch introduced was Gisèle, a friend to James Rasmussen.
- The flower of this species, the black dahlia, in flower language can mean instability, but also rebirth and dignity, as shown by the pride of the witches in their heritage. It is also the nickname of a very famous murder victim from the late 1940s, named Elizabeth Short. She was so nicknamed due to her penchant for wearing a black dahlia flower in her hair.
- Witch society bears a strong resemblance to the neopagan religion of Wicca and to the Goddess movement.
- Witches appear to be the only Night People who cannot convert humans into their kind.
- Ironically, witches are more similar to humans than other Night People.
- Although witches consider themselves "sons and daughters of Hellewise", there were witches that preceded Hellewise, such as her mother Hecate Witch-Queen.
- It's possible that the term "son/daughter of Hellewise" is an honorary or symbolic title, rather than implying all witches are descended only from Hellewise (it is stated on numerous occasions in the novels that only the Harman family are Hellewise's direct descendants).